Scrivener Series: Timelines & Outlines

Scrivener-LogoThis is the third installment in my Scrivener Series, which showcases how I use Scrivener to help me write entire novel series. Be sure to check out the previous installments (Bible, Wallowing) or check out my writing process post for a preview of what I’m going to cover next.

By now I’ve been writing up a storm in the universe of my novel. It’s still a very random storm but it’s starting to coalesce into something nice and terrifying, a molten doom planet of madness.

I’ve started writing actual scenes for the upcoming novel, maybe the one after that or the one after that, I’ve had tea with my antagonist, put my main character on a psychiatrist’s couch and the story is starting to sit on chest in the night, restricting my breath and stealing my nightmares.

It’s time to let all that awesome out in a focused direction.

Timelines

Every important character in my novels gets one, the antagonist, protagonist and recurring side characters with specific weighty roles to play. These can start at different points in the character’s history, Buddy Jenkins’ starts around about his birth but Helen Raymond’s outline starts when her mother first met Pan, while playing in the woods with Helen I.

When the timeline starts depends on the character and how important or convoluted their history actually is. I find putting it in the form of a timeline allows for the important points to be quickly roughed out so you know when they happened but keeps me from getting too hung up on ‘worthless’ backstory. Without pages upon pages from each character’s past already written out, I find it’s easier to drop the important information in little bites that are easier for the reader to digest and keep them interested, without getting the main story sidetracked with long bits of exposition that can really distract from the main plot.

Still, some characters you really need to work their backstories out in depth. Almost everyone in the Eldritch Elysium series has one hell of a convoluted past, and my Four Horsemen aren’t slouching either. Mitei’s history could probably cover a city mile, and Ananke’s is so twisty the Gordian Knot was probably less convoluted but–a person is the sum of everything that’s happened to them, filtered through the lenses of their personality, so all that information helps create more interesting characters and infinitely more interesting series.

Outlines

Slightly different from timelines though each character can get one of their own as well, depending on the needs of the series. The Four Horsemen series has alternating perspectives from all four lead characters and Leslie Roth, it helps–a lot–to have separate outlines for each character’s perspective within the novel.

Each outline focuses on what they’re doing in a scene, but also on what they’re thinking and feeling, whether it’s happening on camera or off. I find that this helps me to make sure I allow the characters to be themselves and don’t skew their actions just because I want such and such to happen by page 245.

Once I’ve got timelines for any new characters that need one, as well as outlines completed up to the end of the novel, I start incorporating the outlines into a single whole – which is often easier said than done. Individual outlines follow individual timelines that don’t necessarily lend themselves quickly to a single whole. Some scenes or chapters will need serious restructuring to get everything where it needs to go.

So the very first rewrite will likely happen before you’ve written the first chapter. Yippie!

Don’t forget if you want to skip the extra blather about my writing process and just go to the next book release, you can always sign up for email notification!

My Writing Process

Writing

My writing process has changed. A lot.

In the beginning I started out using a few books on the art and craft of writing novels and tried to follow along – often deviating about a third of the way through their recommended process as I got the hang of their method, made changes to suit my own style and my novel’s needs. Most of those craft books aren’t really geared towards writing series either so, even in the best of times, after the first novel was finished the books were pretty much useless to me and I had to find my own way.

Now my process is a culmination of techniques I’ve used before, utilizing software that I’ve found helpful (more about that later I hope) and my own preferences. Here’s a brief rundown of the process, hopefully I’ll explain and expand on each of the sections in blog posts of their own later.

You might notice that cover design and title choice aren’t on the list, those tend to happen at various times that I haven’t really finalized yet. I try to decide the title and finish the cover as soon as possible, it helps with advertising and getting readers excited about an upcoming release.

Another thing you won’t notice on the list is an estimate on how long the novel will take or when it will be released, they vary too much. I have yet to be absolutely certain of a release date more than a week or two in advance – mostly because the second a novel is done, I put it up for sale. I can’t stand making readers wait for a release that could be out sooner but if I set a date in advance based on how things are going at the time – it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will put a hex on the works.

Free Friday!

Ah weather. Last week there were ice storms bad enough to knock the power down in my area for three days of frozen hell and today it’s scheduled to be in the 80’s. That’s going to be hell on my herb garden.

Anywho, enough of my domestic misery – I’ve got a present to make up for all the downtime! On Friday, I’ll be giving away copies of my first novel, “The Uncertainty of Death,” for free on Amazon.

The-Uncertainty-of-Death-cDeath… it is the most frightening unknown to us all. For centuries people have personified and anticipated the horror and majesty of this unavoidable reality. We even invent legends to avoid it.

Unfortunately, she is someone we cannot escape.

No one expects a harried, overworked, and socially awkward business woman to become the deliverer of their fate. Death has never been good at games of skill or chance and is keenly self-conscious, always going the extra mile to make others comfortable. But in The Uncertainty of Death, two mortals, Leo Kaylor and Jules Harper are about to meet Death for the first time, and she is not what they imagined in. Together, Leo and Jules embark upon a chaotic journey that will test the very meaning of life and friendship in the first of this apocalyptic Four Horsemen series.

See you Friday, enjoy the freebie!

Free First Friday: “Toxic Ash”

Tomorrow I’m giving away free copies of “Toxic Ash” on Amazon. It’s a rare chance to nab copies of the second novel of the series for free so I hope you jump on the chance

Toxic-Ash-Book-Cover-FinalWhen you dance with the Devil – there’s Hell to pay…

Somehow Ash survived Nevada but now it’s time to clean up the mess she made in the process. Her contract is up for review and if she wants to avoid a fatal cancellation, she’s going to have to do something to prove her usefulness to The Company and delve deeper into a world of madness in the process.

Don’t forget to sign up for an email alert to stay on track with all my deals ahead of anyone else!

Monday Bon Mots: Toxic Ash

I’ve decided to shake my posting schedule up a bit and was thinking of posting story excerpts on Mondays.These lovely little writing samples can range from a sentence to a page and will be from novels and shorts, sometimes with pictures but probably far more often without. Just a little taste for the readers of my blog who are, well, readers and not interested in all the blech and blargle of being an novelist. Luckily for me, this idea also happened to coincide with my birthday and a lovely bit of fan art from one of my readers!

So I’ll be kicking the Monday Bon Mots off with an extra special bang.

DreamingAsh

As she slipped into sleep that last image, something she had not seen but somehow had, seemed to color her dreams. If ‘dream’ was even the word for the terrible lucid journey she seemed thrown into.

Only a moment seemed to pass from the memory of the shadow and then Ash was rising from her bed, wearing not the usual comfy shirt but some far more lengthy nightgown. Slipping forth on bare feet, Ash rushed from her rooms – not into the half familiar hallway but into another room entirely. Onward her feet carried her, slipping not from room to hallway but from room to room, some of them tucked into the others in odd ways only reachable through doorways hidden in plain view; this one was behind a large oil painting, to get to that one Ash had to open a giant grandfather clock and dodge the pendulum, and the next was simply a wall with a hidden catch that swung open on a pivot and revealed not one other room but two…

When To Pay, When NOT To Pay: Book Baby Update

I’ve previously mentioned BookBaby here in the “you’d have to be crazy to pay these prices for this ‘service’ which you could do just as well yourself for free,” column of my When To Pay, When NOT to Pay series. Things have changed though so I suppose it’s worth a quick update.

The primary sticking point for me with BookBaby in the past was their paid ebook formatting and publishing options, all of which any ebook author should be able to do for themselves. Far as I’m concerned knowing how to properly format your own ebook and upload it to the sites of your choosing is as essential as knowing how to change a flat tire and any site that preys on people who haven’t yet figured out how easy it is for authors to do for themselves – is bad news. Now that BookBaby is offering to let authors do these things for themselves, for free, has my opinion of the site changed along with their policy?

Not really no.

There are already a lot of great ways to aggregate your ebook on the various ereader sites, most of which have always been free for authors to use (any cost comes out of the ebook’s price, authors pay nothing up front). Then there’s the various ereader sites themselves for which multiple formatting might be a bit of a pain but it ‘costs’ authors even less than going through an aggregate site. Most of those aren’t mostly in the business of trying to push additional services on Indie Authors (don’t get me wrong, some do offer ‘extras’ like cover design etc. it’s just never been their main money making focus) while BookBaby has always been about selling authors a bill of goods first and selling the authors books second.

That’s just not a great way to get my business or my endorsement.

Draft2Digital

By now if you’re an indie publisher, author or hoping to pursue independent publishing in one way or another – you’ve probably heard of Draft2Digital. But just in case you haven’t, Draft2Digital.com is a publishing platform like Smashwords’ infamous meat grinder in that Draft2Digital (D2D) lets you take your unpublished manuscript, format it for various stores.

What makes D2D different from all the other publishing platforms? You get access to all the markets at once! That means you can publish on the Kindle, Apple devices, Nook, various other ebook readers and even Createspace from one simple website. Not even Smashwords allows you to publish paperback books at the same time as your ebook and Smashwords’ method of taking your carefully crafted manuscript and placing it on all those platforms is, to be horribly frank, nothing short of putting your work in a mangler and hoping it comes out the other end in a legible format.

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Start The New Year Off With A New Book

It’s New Year’s Eve and many people around the world are going to be dressing up to head out and party through midnight. However if you’re like me then the only thing on your mind is what quiet little corner you’re going to take refuge in and what awesome new book you’re going to spend the entire day with. After all, New Years Eve is the one day of the year when no one will look cross eyed at you when you come in bleary eyed the next day.

So, for the readers looking to start the new year off right I’ve got some awesome books suggestions to help you ring in the New Year with. Starting with “Toxic Ash,’ of course which was released just in time for Christmas.

When you dance with the Devil – there’s Hell to pay… Somehow Ash survived Nevada but now it’s time to clean up the mess she made in the process. Her contract is up for review and if she wants to avoid a fatal cancellation, she’s going to have to do something to prove her usefulness to The Company and delve deeper into a world of madness in the process.

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While You Were Sleeping…

If you signed up for email alerts you already know this but for the rest of you, I went ahead and released “Toxic Ash,” updated the blog, Facebook and all the relevant hoodads – and then just because I wasn’t feeling like enough of an over achiever I went ahead and made this:

Ash-of-Ambitions-Createspace-RC1-for-sharing Continue reading

Book Review: Teal Haviland’s “The Reaping Chronicles: Inception”

Time for something completely different. Or so I thought when I picked Teal Haviland’s “The Reaping Chronicles: Inception” out of my ‘to read’ list. It’s been a very long time since I read anything with angels in it (the last time I tried the plot holes were so ginormous I couldn’t finish reading that novel) and I’d been following “Inception” on Facebook for some time.

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